Kunterbunt is a travel agency for mentally and/or physically disabled people, located in southern Germany. Photographer Piotr Pietrus sometimes joins them.
"Kunterbunt offers around 60 trips a year of various kinds and destinations while strongly focusing on a respectful and easy approach towards the individual. Based on this philosophy the disabled people are allowed to find themselves in the very rare occasion where usual structures, borders and roles defining their everyday life no longer exist. Whether they are able do it consciously or not, for a while they can experience a freedom and room for self-expression that every person is deeply longing for. Being on the road and documenting their time is a unique opportunity to gain insight into a world unknown to most of us. It is easy to fill a book with the countless experiences of every trip but what remains so special for me is the real honesty I had been confronted with. So refreshingly different from 'our' life the disabled mostly don't wear masks, they simply are themselves. Their inner child can be very inspiring and reminding us of our own one."
In 2012, Maja Kaszkur and Radek Polak spent two months traveling with championship diver Mateusz Malina in Egypt, Norway, Poland and South Africa, and a month shooting with large and medium format cameras.
"Matt comes from a modest family. Wishing to make his passion come true he worked for two years in a BMW factory in England. He learnt English to learn to dive. His familiarity with the theory is a result of persevering study of the online sources. He could not afford to pay for professional courses nor for individual training. Matt is like Rocky Balboa. People love him as he reminds them of themselves. He is not a star of superhuman abilities. He is just a young man from Ustroń who reached the highest peaks thanks to his great determination."
A sweet, thoughtful project by Giovanni Savino morphed into a personal effort to preserve a piece of local history.
"A couple of years ago, in a small Dominican town near the Haitian border, I met and became friends with Georgette Michelen and her family. Georgette lives in a beautiful, enormous wooden house her father built at the beginning of last century: 'The House of the Sun.'
"The house has thirty-three external doors and it shines in a decayed, almost surreal beauty, replete with a long, fascinating oral history, virtually embedded in its walls. With Georgette's blessing, I embarked on a completely self-financed project: an extensive photographic exploration of the house, for nearly two months.
My work was primarily motivated by a sense of impermanence I shared with Georgette; a feeling, perhaps a certainty, that this house and the marvelous mnemonic capsule it embodied wasn't to last much longer due to Georgette's age as well as to a brutal agenda of urban 'modernization,' quite rampant in many Dominican cities nowadays.
While brainstorming with Georgette on how to save and protect the house in a bleak-looking future, I promised her that I would try to edit the best shots as well as some of her thoughts and recollections, derived from the many audio recordings, into a book. Two years and many working hours later, on my own and with the help of several friends of mine, both a self-published book and a website now exist: my humble contribution to preserve at least some of the images, sounds and memories associated with this wonderful building, if not the building itself.
I recently had the immense pleasure of traveling to see her in the Dominican Republic and present her with a copy of the book. As she turned the pages, almost in disbelief, her face glowing, she would only stop smiling to thank me over and over again for all my hard work and commitment. Hopefully, through the book and some web presence we will find someone interested and able to help preserve the incredible house her father built."
"From the first, I insisted that Minor be only a man and not the larger-than-life legend that he had become to so many. 'Who the hell are you, Minor? Will you take off your mask?'" Abe Frajndlich, from Lives I've Never Lived: A Portrait of Minor White published by Arc Press, 1983.
Abe Frajndlich was 24 when he first attended one of Minor White's photography workshops, in Cleveland, Ohio. Soon after, Abe became one of White's several live-in students, entering a somewhat ascetic, somewhat mystical, but thoroughly amazing world; a place where he would live on-and-off until White died, in 1976.
After his third heart attack in what would be the final year of White's life, he and Abe embarked on a book project which would be a series of portraits of White that Frajndlich made in and around White's home, 203 Park Avenue, Arlington Heights, Massachusetts. Lives I've Never Lived: A Portrait of Minor White includes Abe's recollections of his six years studying under White, sharing some of his most intimate moments. White died on June 24th, 1976. The book was published in 1983.
Minor White was a highly influential photographer and teacher; he founded Aperture Magazine in 1952 with fellow photographers Ansel Adams, Dorothea Lange, and Barbara Morgan, and edited the magazine until 1975.
It would be hard to be anything but moved by Joshua Lutz' latest project, "Hesitating Beauty," in which Lutz tries to convey the far-reaching impact that his mother's extreme mental illness had during and after her lifetime.
"Blending family archives, interviews, and letters with his own photographic images, Lutz spins a seamless and strangely factual (yet unflinchingly fabricated) experience of a life and family consumed by mental illness. Rather than showing us what it looks like, "Hesitating Beauty" plays with our conceptions of reality to show us what it feels like to grapple with a family member's retreat from lucidity." ClampArt.
Geoff Green showed me this ongoing project at a recent portfolio review. He slapped the large prints on the table and offered me a pair of gloves in case I wanted to avoid touching them (I declined to wear them).
Geoff describes "A survey depicting the essence of street life on one block in Brooklyn by the remains discarded on its sidewalks and its gutters. It is an anthropological/archaeological approach to street photography and neighborhood dynamics."
"The object is taken from the gutter, photographed, and printed. The final print is then taken to the street to absorb the impact of the original environment, its weather, foot, and vehicular traffic. Each print becomes a unique object." He leaves the prints taped down until they eventually get dragged down the street. "Unfortunately, I do need to keep an eye on things so they don't get nicked."
In the thick of some of the world's most severe 'austerity measures,' families struggle to get by in Greece. Christos Kapatos is recording his parent's additional strain.
With his background in cinema, Christos is also working on a series of "cinematic images about the existential quest of the 20-40 year old people under the latest economic crisis hitting Europe and Greece in particular, to be exhibited in Greece and abroad in 2013-2014."
In her unsettling yet beautiful work, Tara Sellios creates images that "articulate the totality of existence, focusing heavily on the broad themes of life and death." Sellios works with large format film and produces sketches in advance that are themselves works of art.
This young artist (b. Boston, 1987) says "Death has always possessed a significant presence within the history of art, ranging from altarpieces to the work of the Dutch still life painters. Manifesting melancholic themes with beauty and precision, as these artists did, results in an image that is seductive, forcing the viewer to look, despite its apparent grotesque and morbid nature. Through these images, I aspire to make apparent the restlessness of a life that is knowingly so temporary and vulnerable."
"I tried in every way possible to visually/graphically make the environment come to life in its most lifeless moments."
'Afterlife - New Jersey Shore' is a seven-year project that Michael Massaia has basically brought to an end since Sandy devastated the area. You can read an interview with Michael on the North Jersey news website, or hear his dulcet tones and watch him work below.
Here's another feature by a Czech photographer. Since 2007, photographer Evžen Sobek has been documenting life on the banks of the Nové Mlýny reservoirs in the South Moravia region of the Czech Republic. The vacationers are ex-caravanners who have embraced a more stationary life in these man-made environs.
A selection from Evžen's charming series "Life in Blue" is on-view in an exhibition at ClampArt in NYC until February 16th. Several more are collected in a book of the same title, a fine 12" square format which includes a big bonus poster. With the radio photograph on the cover, it feels a bit like an LP. It's full of more of the same, each an enjoyable, curious vignette in its own right.
Sobek is founder of the Brno Photography School and the Fotoframe competition and his work is represented in numerous private and public collections, including the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; the School of Visual Arts, Osaka; and the Museum of Applied Arts, Prague.